On the eve of Mainstage and right after one of the biggest shut-downs in Super Smash Bros. history, Nintendo has released a full statement regarding the Smash World Tour and why it made the decision to deny the tournament organizer an official license—along with a light mention of Panda’s involvement.
According to Nintendo’s statement to IGN, the decision to refuse a license to the SWT team was “solely based on our assessment of the proposals submitted by the SWT and our evaluation of their unlicensed activities” and nothing else.
With this wording, the company once again alludes to the SWT not meeting some form of health and safety standards for fans, though no specifics have been provided. In addition, Nintendo once again notes that it did not directly verbally ask the SWT to cancel its 2022 Championship event, stating that “the decision to cancel the SWT 2022 was, and still is, their own choice.”
This is essentially a greenlight from Nintendo that opens the door for the SWT to continue through the end of 2022, but it does not assuage the TOs concerns regarding some of the wording of Nintendo’s original statement which included mention of the SWT Championship 2022—though not a direct need to shut it down.
That doesn’t clear up much regarding the specifics behind why the SWT did not meet Nintendo’s “high standards” for fan health and safety or brand and IP guidelines and conducts, and instead acts as the company doubling down on a lack of transparency that most fans were upset about from its first statement.
In addition to that, Nintendo does not acknowledge any of the accusations brought up by the SWT team, multiple TOs, and a number of other individuals within the Smash community regarding the actions of Panda Global and its CEO Dr. Alan Bunney. This includes no mention of the corroborated reports of him threatening to shut down tournaments if organizers did not sign on with the Panda Cup.
Instead of commenting on that second important aspect, Nintendo simply reiterated that it is “open to partnering with other organizations and will continue to offer licenses for major tournaments outside of the Panda Cup.”
Along with that, Nintendo has seemingly decided to back Panda in this situation, noting that “Panda Global will continue to be a key partner” and that the organization will continue to “advocate on behalf of the Super Smash Bros. community” for TOs to work with Nintendo to “benefit” the larger community.
Players, community figureheads, and fans from around the world are already jumping to call out this statement as being “disgusting,” “PR manipulation,” and a total “non-statement.” Especially when it comes to the final paragraph:
“Nintendo cares about Super Smash Bros. fans and its community very much, and we hope to continue to hear their passionate feedback,” Nintendo wrote to IGN. “We are committed to working hard to bring joy and fun to the community through tournaments while also ensuring we and our partners are operating in a manner that is positive and responsible.”
At the moment, the community feels like it is being treated poorly by Nintendo’s odd wording and lack of details regarding the SWT cancellation—even if it wasn’t verbally required to cease operations—and Panda’s seemingly nefarious actions behind the scenes when building up the Panda Cup.
It feels like there is very little for fans who want to be optimistic about the situation to hold as 100 percent truth considering how much both of Nintendo’s statements appear to contradict what the SWT team laid out initially and in their own follow-up. And, until the process of licensing has some amount of clarity and Panda’s CEO makes a statement, it is unlikely things will change—leaving unlicensed Smash events in a state of limbo.
Update Dec. 2 7:43pm CT: Matching the confusion of the wider Smash community, the Smash World Tour team has released a follow-up to Nintendo’s statement that makes it clear nothing has changed from their perspective and there are now additional areas of concern.
While Nintendo claims it did not verbally shut down the 2022 Championships, the SWT team pushed back, noting that they specifically asked if continuing to run the final event of this year and the 2023 Tour as a whole would be doable under the agreement that they would not be shut down. To that, the TOs point to Nintendo openly stating that those “times are over” in regards to unofficially running things with no license.
“We are struggling to understand why Nintendo contacted us at all last week if they truly wanted us to continue operating,” the SWT team said. “We are struggling to understand why they would not simply reach out to us after our event, rather than rush to meet with us before the Thanksgiving holiday break, just two weeks before our Championships event.”
In addition to the comment from Nintendo stating that unofficially running things would not be an option, the SWT also directly asked if the company understood what impact it could have by canceling both the Championships and 2023 Tour—operating under the impression that both events were under the same umbrella in this situation. This included comments about players traveling to compete and documentary teams set to attend and record the event.
The TOs note that Nintendo stated it was “confident that from A-Z, all consequences have been evaluated in making this decision,” during the meeting. If true, this directly contradicts most of Nintendo’s larger statement to IGN.
SWT’s team also points out that part of Nintendo’s statement has added more concern surrounding tournament organizers and unlicensed events, confirming that multiple TOs had already reached out to the SWT wondering if this statement is “public permission” to run unlicensed events—something that is currently just as unclear as the licensing process.
That, paired with Nintendo’s lack of acknowledgment for Panda Global’s negative actions—specifically its CEO—makes this statement “disappointing and concerning” heading into what the team has dubbed “one of the most important times the Smash community has ever faced.”
Panda also released a statement corroborating most of Nintendo’s stance and failing to answer most community questions, leaving fans just as confused as ever and starting the next wave of backlash toward the org, its CEO, and Panda-sanctioned events.